SRINAGAR: For the second time in this month, security forces launched massive combing and search operation against militants in volatile south Kashmir’s Shopian district on Wednesday. However, the operation during which local youth pelted stones on the security personnel was called off by troops without any success and without establishing any contact with militants or locating their safe houses.
A strong contingent of army, Special Operations Group (SOG) of J&K police and paramilitary CRPF men laid siege around Heff, Shirmal and adjoining villages in south Kashmir’s Shopian district early this morning.
SP Shopian A S Dinkar said the operation was launched about presence of militants including some top commanders in the villages.
He said they had information that a number of militants were hiding in the orchards and populated areas and the operation was launched to flush them out.
According to police sources, many local and foreign militants are present in Shopian and they have released many videos about their activities on social media.
22-year-old army officer Lt Umer Fayaz was abducted and killed by militants in Shopian on May 10.
According to sources, over 1000 army, police and paramilitary personnel were involved in the search operation.
They said during the operation, the men were asked to assemble at a single place. “All the men were thoroughly frisked and their identity cards checks”.
The security personnel, sources said, conducted intense house to house searches.
However, the security personnel could not locate any militant or their safe-houses in the villages during the operation, which lasted for over four hours.
The locals alleged that security personnel beat the youth and some females during the operation.
The locals staged protests and pelted stones on security personnel triggering clashes. The cops fired tear smoke shells, pellets and resorted to heavy baton charge to disperse the protesting people. In the clashes, some people sustained injuries.
The locals alleged that security personnel damaged property and smashed windowpanes of houses and parked cars.
They alleged that family members of some militants were harassed and beaten by the security personnel.
Later, in the afternoon, security forces called off the operation after failing to find any militant or their hide-outs.
SP Shopian said the combing operation was part of the continuous drive against the militants, who are holed up in the villages.
He said the operation was called-off as no contact was established with the militants.
“We will continue these operations with some fine tuning and get the militants hiding in the district,” Dinkar said.
The police officer said no militant families were harassed or beaten during the operation. “We launched the operation for militants and not for anything else”.
“We got a lot of cooperation from the villagers during operation,” he said.
Dinkar said some miscreants tried to resort to stone pelting but they were dealt with maximum restraint.
“None was injured during the operation,” he said.
Today’s operation was the second major anti-militancy operation in Shopian this month.
Earlier, on May 4, at least 4000 soldiers, police and paramilitary personnel had launched a major search operation in Shopian, which was biggest in a decade in Valley.
During the operation, choppers and surveillance drones were pressed into service to assist troops on the ground. It reminded of the turbulent 1990’s when crackdowns by security personnel were rampant
The eight-hour long operation ended without security forces establishing any contact with the militants.